With an outlook towards the future, some financial aspects of the club were [surprisingly] shared during the post-mortem press conference on October 31st 2012. Joey Saputo talked about being ''slighty in the red'' with unexpected expenses that included 2 pre-season camps and the Italy post-season tour; add to that a mid-season ticket price cut.
The Montreal Impact is at around 4.5M$ in Guaranteed Compensation but still held the advantage of being an expansion team in 2012 which gave the club extra allocation money. Not making the playoffs also gives the club additional allocation money. That allocation pool can be used:
- To sign players new to MLS (that is, a player who did not play in MLS during the previous season).
- To re-sign an existing MLS player, subject to League approval.
- To "buy-down" a player's salary budget charge below the League maximum of $350,000.
- In connection with the exercise of an option to purchase a player's rights or the extension of a player's contract for the second year provided the player was new to MLS in the immediately prior year.
The Allocation money trick is an important tool to help a club's salary management.
As Sporting Director, Nick De Santis, made the search for an offensive midfielder official , cap flexibility will be needed to acquire such a player, DP or not. Outside acquiring new players, management needs to re-evaluate current players that might deserve and/or demand a salary increase. An important player like Hassoun Camara fits the bill of a player that will look for a compensation increase. The versatile central midfielder/defender is currently making 75K$ and can fetch more in and outside Major League Soccer.
Re-negotiation of contracts is another tool that the Montreal Impact can use. Will players ,that might be overpaid or that under-perform ,volunteer to a contract salary and term reduction?
The Usual Suspects for salary re-negotiation :
(*) Justin Mapp (218,333.33$) : Talented? Yes. Seldom frustrating in inconsistency? Yes . A rumor that popped up on twitter was talking about Justin Mapp in the process of re-negotiating his contract. Whether this is true or not, it is a reality that might be happening for the MLS veteran.
(*) Davy Arnaud (290,000$) : The first captain of the team in MLS has been a hard-working player and an example to follow intensity wise. His technical skills were not top notch but was still able to perform and have added value on the field. The Arnaud-haters have their arguments but get someone better and the Montreal Impact will replace him. Making almost 300K$, the Texan MLS veteran has helped the expansion team get comfortable in MLS.
(*) Sanna Nyassi (132,625$) : The Gambian international was much more effective coming off the bench than starting games. He has speed and is versatile as a striker and winger but did not fully convince in both roles as a starter. He could be part of the long-term solution for the club to have depth up front with a versatile offensive player.
(*) Zarek Valentin (142,000$) : The Generation Adidas defender was slotted as the starting right back for the club. He lost his spot due to a combination of injury and new players coming in. The Akron Zip player could leave or get traded to get playing time and help shed some salary cap hit on the club. A very young and talented player, Valentin has a place in most MLS teams but it is not sure where he stands in the Impact's plans.
I did not include Andrew Wenger (at 202,000$) as he is still a Generation Adidas player who has played under 2000 minutes, hence not a full salary cap hit unlike Zarek Valentin. I also did not include the 2012 MLS rookie as he has shown that he can bring added value to the club as a forward, a potential successful striker in MLS.
With Davy Arnaud acquired via trade and the other 3 via the expansion draft, all 4 moves are part of the Jesse Marsch era. Their future will depend on a combination of the club's evaluation of their value to the club and the vision of the new head coach.
Good Ol' MLS Trades
The whole question around trading players and re-negotiating salaries will revolve whether the Montreal Impact actually wants to keep player x,y and z. With a potential DP player coming to fill an offensive role in the midfield, getting role players for the starting XI and a deep bench is important. In the same time, players like Mapp and Arnaud have probably dropped in the pecking order in the eye of the Montreal Impact management.
With a flurry trades coming up right after the end of the MLS season and MLS Cup final, will the Impact be able to trade away salaries? No one is sure whether the club is looking for MLS talent as it has fielded more ''non-MLS'' players in the starting XI this season.
Willing To Spend?
Money is no issue for Joey Saputo but the Saputo empire did not just create itself out of bad business decisions. At the end, getting return on investment is important for any club in a competitive professional league. Spend a lot but spend wisely one might say.
Being slightly in the red the first year is not an indication of an overflow of revenues. But the attendance numbers at Stade Saputo have been positive in mid-season to hope for a good revenue. Are we talking about top third revenue in the league ? At this point, freeing up money seems to be the more viable solution but expect the Montreal Impact to do so in a rational way.
Reducing salaries will help towards acquisitions of top players even if money is no issue for Joey Saputo. Without wanting to read the mind of the club, the Impact is leaning toward a LA Galaxy / New York Red Bulls model quicker than expected. Successful teams during the season like Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City have shown to be able to combine expensive talent and efficient cheaper role players to have success on the field.
How close is the Montreal Impact to becoming another giant (at least on paper) of the East and MLS?